Monday, April 28, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past Comes to Blu-Ray and DVD October 14, 2014! You Can Preorder, Now!

X-Men: Days of Future Past by
Chris Claremont (Writer/Co-Plotter),
and John Byrne (Penciler/Co-Plotter),
is a collection of Marvel comics
specifically issued to cover a
complete story line. [1]

Book Review by:
Sharon Powers

     Sunfire attacked, using the nuclear firebolts he could create from within himself...the X-Men fought to counter Sunfire, but were unable to prevent the "violent death" of Sunfire's father. It was an extremely difficult lesson for the young Japanese boy to learn, but learn it he did. He had needed to learn to control his power and use it for good. Sunfire was not an evil mutant, but "merely [a] misguided" one (p.14). Time passed quickly for Sunfire, and soon he found himself joining the very mutants he once had battled...he responded affirmatively when Professor Xavier called him to join the new X-men. He would be fighting alongside Kurt Wagner (the Nightcrawler), Ororo (Storm), Peter Rasputin (Colossus), John Proudstar (Thunderbird), Sean Cassidy (Banshee), and Logan, who was also known as Wolverine.

     Almost immediately, changes happened within the team. Thunderbird was killed and Jean Grey (Marvel Girl--part of the old team of X-Men), was transformed into Phoenix; not long after, Phoenix, too, died. Balancing out all that loss, the X-Men acquired a very young (just 13 1/2 years old) and very talented, Kitty Pryde.  Though none know it, yet, this young girl holds the future of the X-Men, indeed, the future of the world, in her hands ([1] p. 20-22).  

     X-Men: Days of Future Past, is one of Marvel Comics most popular story lines. In fact, the first issue of Days of Future Past, is the 25th most popular issue, being listed on the "100 Greatest Marvels of All Time." [2] Not a mean feat since, depending on who you talk to and what titles are included, somewhere between 32,000 (The Official Index to the Marvel Universe) and 43,000 (Mike's Amazing World of DC) titles have been issued in the last 79 years. [3]

Kitty Pryde joins the new X-
Men (in this book--collection
--of Days of Future Past) in
issue #138. Kitty is shown,
here "phasing" or walking
through a wall--her special
mutant ability. [4]
    X-Men: Days of Future Past, of course, was originally published in comic book form. It moved into graphic novels and collected editions. Now, the story comes to us as big screen entertainment. Today, we are going to be looking specifically at the Days of Future Past story line, examine a couple of the X-Men books and see which of those books best convey the Days of Future Past story line; and, lastly, we will get to view the upcoming movie trailer of the exciting new movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past and talk about the adaptation of the book into a movie and what that means to the story line.


FYI: This is a very long blog post, so if you don't want to read all the way through it, just skip to the end for the book ratings. You would be missing some great stuff, but I would understand.... Now, let's jump into it.

THE BOOK:  The first X-Men book we're looking at today is X-Men: Days of Future Past (ISBN 0-7851-1560-9)--the cover is shown at the top of the page, and to the left. This particular X-Men includes the collected issues numbered 138 through 143 of The Uncanny X-Men, and X-Men Annual #4.      

     While, technically, the Days of Future Past story line is included in issues numbered 141 and 142, the other issues are considered essential to understand the complete story line. To that end, issue #138 condenses much of what has come before--everything from the founding of Xavier's School up to Kitty Pryde's arrival. We get to see Kitty grow in confidence and ability as the book progresses until we get to the meat of the Days of Future Past plot--issues #141 and 142.

In the 21st Century dystopian present, the adult, "Kitty," now called,
"Kate," resides with the remnants of the mutant and human races. A
society in which all X-Men are dead except Wolverine, Storm,
Kate (Kitty/Sprite), and Colossus. Also alive are Magneto,
Franklin Richards (the last of the Fantastic Four),
and his lady, Rachel (a telepath). [5]
    Central to the story is the continu- ing "antimutant hys- teria" and a Nazi-like solution to kill and inter into prison camps, the strange, uncontrollable, and dangerous mutants. In previous story lines (and X-Men movies) we saw this theme and, likewise, observed that humans and mutants alike were on two sides of the "mutant issue." Two radically disparate approaches, unity and peace or violence and war. None of this is new; we have seen these themes continue since the X-Men have been around. 

Kate's desperate attempt to return to 1980 to assume a
role as her younger self and stop the violent events
that would lead to the annihilation of the mutants and
many humans, as well. Here, she plummets back
through time.[6]
     The writers, though, take it to a whole other level in Days of Future Past. Using the "mutant" issue, the writers create an event that once accomplished, threatens the very fabric of existence for humanity and mutants, alike. It is from here, that the story splits into two parallel tracks: one track in October of 1980, and one in 2013, where everything is decaying and dying (p. 110). In a terrifying last ditch effort to prevent Senator Robert Kelly (Presidential candidate) from being assassinated, and Charles Xavier from being killed, Kate (AKA Kitty/Sprite) goes back in time and into the body she possessed in 1980--back in time to prevent a chain of events that would lead to monstrous results. She must keep The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants [Destiny (a blind precog), Avalanche, Pyro, Blob and their leader, Mystique] from killing the Senator.  

     Even as Kate travels back in time, the time line in 2013 continues on. The remaining mutants continue to fight in the hope of defeating the Sentinel menace that threatens to totally do away with them. The conclusion is dramatic and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat wondering...will the few survive?

X-Men: Days of Future Past by Chris
Claremont, Walter and Louise Simon-
son, Alan Davis, and John Francis
Moore. Illustrators included are as
follows: John Byrne, Jackson Guice,
Terry Shoemaker, Chris Wozniak, and
Joe Bennet. [This hardcover edition
is different than the first book and
includes different issues.] [7]
THE BOOK:  The issues in this X-Men hardbound book include: X-Men 141 (1963), Uncanny X-Men 142 (1981), New Mutants Annual 6, X-Factor Annual 5, X-Men Annual 14, Excalibur 52 and 66-67 (1988), Wolverine: Days of Future Past 1-3, Material From Fantastic Four Annual 23, and Hulk: Broken Worlds 2.

     Even though the titles of these first two books are the same, their contents are different. When you compare the contents of this book with the first X-Men book, much of the Uncanny X-Men issues are eliminated. This book is dramatically different from the first book in that only Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142 are the same. All of the other collected issues in the large book cover other material, notably, about the Wolverine and Hulk.

     Still, there are a few similarities between the two books: the two follow the same theme of the "mutant issue," that of hatred of what is different and factions with radically different views on how best to resolve the hatred of mutants. And, of course, the two issues of the Uncanny X-Men #'s 141-142 where Kitty (AKA, Kate) travels through time to stop the apocalypse; the two timelines are also virtually identical. Also, the sentinels, as tools of bigoted and evil men, and who work to do away with mutants, are ever present in all time lines.

Franklin Richards, son of Mr. Fantastic, develops the power
to project dream selves to other locations and times. [8]
     A good portion of the book deals with Franklin Richards (son of Mr. Fantastic, one of the original Fantastic Four and Sue Richards--invisible woman). Franklin, we soon learn, has developed the power to project "dream selves" wherever he wishes--needless to say, this causes confusion to other super mutants who know him as a little boy or the man he has already become.

     Franklin's exploits continue as he runs from the "hound-master Ahab." Ahab, "...a mutant hunter sent from the the Guardian [sent] the Master Sentinel to prevent any mutant time travelers from escaping into the past..." (p.83).

The comic book sentinel is on the right and the version
created for the movie on the left--both are purple, and you
can see other similarities, as well. In the comic book series,
the first series of sentinels were created by Trask
Industries. See the story line for more information
about these behemoths! [9]
     Now, Ahab sets after Franklin. This, undoubtedly is one tie-in to the time traveling theme which has only tan- gentially, thus far, been connected to Kitty/Kate trav- eling back in time. Remember that in the first book, Franklin is one of a handful of mutants left alive.

      We get to see some of the disbanded, original X-Men who have reunited into a group that they call, X-Factor: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Iceman. They, too, get to tangle with Ahab and his "hounds," and even a couple of Sentinels as they help the other super mutants--and the search for Franklin continues. Then, with the sudden arrival of Banshee, Sunspot, Warlock, Boom-boom, Cannonball, Cable, Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, we see that they have tracked down and possess the unconscious and much sought-after Franklin [Note: Sunspot is one of the "new" mutants who appears in the upcoming movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past.]. To prevent Ahab's continued assaults, the X-Men and company destroy the discovered "Tesseract Pocket...a small dimensional anomaly" where Ahab hid his machineries and army.

This is the group known as X-Factor:
Angel (top); Iceman (center left); Cyclops
(center); Jean Grey (center right); and
Beast (front). [10]
     The groups of super mutants, in this book, are numerous and include the following: The Fantastic Four, The original X-Men, The New X-Men, Alpha Flight,  X-Factor, Power Pack, and Excalibur (as well as a plethora of bad guys, the most important of whom belong to the "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants:" Mystique, Destiny, Blob, Pyro and Avalanche.). In fact, it is Mystique's group that causes all the problems with the chain of events that triggers the Armageddon, as the group targets Senator Kelly for death, and battles with the Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Angel, Night Crawler and Sprite (AKA: Kitty/Kate Pryde).

     Complications of group dynamics occur when one member leaves a group and joins another. Or, morphs into another character and has different powers and a new name. Or, dies and is resurrected. Or, isn't really dead, but was just "lost." Or, isn't really dead, but just in a cocoon and the character we see was really just a clone. Or...well, you get it. A lot of variables occur to the individual members of the groups.

This is Rachel when she was
under the influence of  Ahab,
Lord of the Hounds. [11]
     All the issues featuring these groups have great story lines, but what we are looking for, here, is the thread that ties them all together--the time traveling of Kate (Kitty) Pryde into the past, and the complications of alternate time lines and others who time travel (like Rachel who travels back to ascertain why the time travel for Kate didn't work to fix the problem.).

     In addition to Franklin's involvement in the book that I spoke about, above, an awful lot of the book comprises story lines about Jean Grey (as Marvel Girl/Phoenix/Dark Phoenix/The Black Queen) [who marries Scott Summers/Cyclops and has a daughter: Rachel Summers who is also known as Rachel Grey (who inherits her mother's telepathic and telekinesis abilities, as well as her mother's code names: Phoenix and Marvel Girl).]; additionally, Rachel and her mother, Jean, have mother-daughter issues, and then there is an additional complication with Rachel's involvement with "Phoenix Force."

Wolverine: Days of Future Past
is a  special three-part series,
a prelude to X-Men: Days of Future
 Here's part 1.  [12]
 In the final pages of the book, we get a special three part series entitled, Wolverine: Days of Future Past.  In actuality, it is the prelude to Days of Future Past. (I would have placed it at the beginning of the book, not the end...oh, well. I'm not the publisher.) Anyway, in it we get to see what led to the main story in issues 141-142 of Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past. The trilogy also provides the explanation for why Logan goes to Canada and why Magneto is wheelchair bound by the time we get to the main story in the primary two issues (141-142). [I know I'm jumping the gun on this, but I really loved this three part series!]

     In the three part story we get to see the Wolverine we all know and love, Jubilee (Jubilation Lee) [along with "Leech," and Everett Thomas, Code Name, "Synch"], Emma Frost, Madelyne Pryor (The Red Queen) [Note: In one alternate time line, Colossus was married to Madelyne Pryor with whom he had a child--the child's name?...Franklin, one of the last survivors in, Days of Future Past.], Shinobi Shaw (son of Sebastian Shaw), Lord Zemo, Magneto and Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximov).

     These three issues portray for the reader, the "relocation camps" for mutants, the monstrous sentinels as they work their way through plans to annihilate all mutants (a "Cataclysm Engine" as a new and terrifying weapon against the mutants.), and the "Reborn Council of the Chosen." Finally, we get to see the dynamic interpersonal relationships that cause such trouble for hero and villain, alike: for example, Wolverine and Amiko, and Magneto and his "daughter" (Wanda Maximov, the Scarlet Witch).

     Magneto convinces Wolverine to rescue his daughter from the sentinel headquarters, and all the hidden little secrets come to light in the effort to rescue one woman. In a dramatic conclusion, that woman, the Scarlet Witch, once released, utilizes her powers to destroy the "Cataclysm Engine."

The black and white, Essential X-
Men: Volume Two (Marvel 
Essentials v. 2) by Chris Clare-
mont, John Byrne, and Illus-
trator Dave Cockrum. [13]
THE BOOK: The collected issues for this Marvel title include the following: X-Men issues 120-141; The Uncanny X-Men issues 142-144; and The X-Men Annual numbers 3-4. The new material in this book, and not included in the above two books, are issues 120-137, 144, and annuals 3-4. So, what we see in terms of what's necessary for the time line of "Days of Future Past," and what IS included, are the primary two issues (141-142)--the other material is either back story leading up to the Future Past time line, or just additional material for you to enjoy in getting to know the characters or tangential story plots.   

     While the cover has a beautiful, full-color image, the issue, itself, is published in black and white, that is, no color--so don't be misled by the beautifully colored cover. The paper consists of inexpensive pulp paper; it is economical, but definitely not pretty. This book is radically different in appearance from the two previous books--the previous two are published in full color, and have beautiful glossy pages, gorgeous to the eye and appealing to the visual senses. And, while the pages in the Essential X-Men: Volume Two are eminently clear and readable, it lacks the beauty and artistic sensibilities the previous two books possess.

Reading Tip: I found it VERY helpful as I read the books to have
a pen and paper to draw an informal map. Put down the names 
of the players and draw arrows to things that they do--X through
characters killed. (see photo). It makes it EASY to keep track
of characters and action this way! When you start a new
story line, start a new map.
     Two reasons exist why I selected this volume to include in the book review. First, the topic we are looking at, today, Days of Future Past, is part and parcel of this book. Additionally, since I am no "comics expert," I defer to those who do know comics; the experts list this volume as an essential book dealing with the story line of Days of Future Past--that's why volume 2, and not volume 1, is included in today's book review.

     What is included in the Essential X-Men v.2? In the opening pages we are introduced to ALPHA FLIGHT (the Canadian group of super mutants, mentioned, above). Vindicator and crew (Sasquatch, Northstar, Shaman, Snowbird, and Aurora) seek to bring Wolverine back to their fold--against Wolverine's wishes--uh huh. You can guess how that goes.

Two of the Hellfire Club's
members, Sebastian Shaw
and Emma Frost. [14]
     Another sequence of issues deal extensively with the HELLFIRE CLUB (Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost [AKA The White Queen], Harry Leland, Donald Pierce [Cyborg], and Mastermind [AKA Jason Wyngard--Jean Grey's seducer to the darkside and creator of her new persona, THE BLACK QUEEN (see issue #132].). A little "aside," here, if you recall, in the movie, X-Men: First Class, the Hellfire Club was showcased when CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert follows Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club and sees, for the first time, several super mutants--in the book, Moira MacTaggert is a research geneticist and good friend of Charles Xavier.

     While she is with Wyngard/Mastermind, Jean Grey mysteriously transforms into the Dark Phoenix. Thereafter, Jean and her fellow mutants struggle with her god-like powers, eventually, Jean sacrifices herself and she dies. (See issues #134-137)

     The rest of the book includes the material I've already covered, above, only in black and white instead of in full color. The X-Men: Days of Future Past, is included (issues # 141-142), as are the other back story material (issues 138-143).

THE MOVIE: First, X-Men: Days of Future Past, is currently scheduled for release in U.S. markets on May 23, 2014. The trailer to that movie looks exciting, and I'd like you to see it--then we can talk a little more. [15]
     Let's get right to it. The main plot seems to fairly well follow the plot of the book(s). What does not track so well is how the adaptation of the book is made to the big screen's portrayal of the characters. For example, in what I consider the biggest change from book to movie, Wolverine takes over Kitty/Kate Pryde plot line and is the one who does the time traveling. If you think about it, it makes sense. Hugh Jackman is a major box office draw--I'm sure the money men behind the movie want Jackson's face front and center instead of _________? Who?...wait a minute while I look up who the actress was who played Kitty in X-Men: Last Stand...searching...searching...oh yes, here we was Ellen Page. Lovely actor. But not anywhere nearly as well known as Hugh Jackman. 'Nuf said.

Entertainment Weekly: April 18, 2014 +
April 25, 2014 (#'s 1307 & 1308) Special
Double Issue, Summer Movie Preview:
X-Men Days of Future Past.
     Another example. In the book, Mystique's group, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, fights the X-Men while another Brotherhood member, Destiny (a blind precog), sneaks past everyone to attempt the assassination of presidential candidate, Senator Kelly.

     Entertainment Weekly has indicated that in the movie, it is not Destiny who goes in to kill Senator Kelly, but Mystique, herself, who attempts the assassination. And instead of Senator Kelly, it is Bolivar Trask, the creator of the first series of sentinels that has become the target. Again, Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique is a known entity--very well-loved as the character. Ask yourself, do the money makers really want an unknown actor in a role (Destiny) that's not well known to movie fans who may not have read the book? I doubt it.

     In fact, Entertainment Weekly's, Tim Stack, indicated that, "Past aims to boost X-Men's fortunes by bringing back marquee stars such as Jackman and Berry as well as younger ones like Lawrence and Fassbender whose profiles have risen in recent years." (p. 29) [16] I think the motivation is pretty clear why changes were made in the adaptation of the book to the movie. In fact, the movie moguls seem pretty up front about it all.

Entertainment Weekly Summer Preview
April 18/25 2014 (Double Issue:
#'s 1307 & 1308). [17]
     And, another thing about adaptations. Movie makers often change scripts, plots and book story lines to accommodate the creation of a story to make it more suitable for viewing on a big screen. Take a quick look at the five thumb nail photos (just to the right, here) of the new mutants that will be featured in the movie. In the three books I've reviewed, above, we just don't see any of the five mutants in any of the major plot lines. Yes, we do see a couple of them in minor, walk on, walk off, roles (Sunspot and Quicksilver, for example) in the books, but, really, nothing major.

     Bishop, however, is somewhat a special case. Bishop is often associated with the Days of Future Past storyline, but not because he was in anyway active in the original issues (141-142). In fact, the character wasn't even created until 1991! [Note: November 10, 1991, Uncanny X-Men, #282 was Bishop's initial appearance and #283, the first FULL appearance of Bishop in a story arc. (See]

     Instead, we first see Bishop as the "central protagonist" of the very popular X-Men: The Animated Series when the story arc was specifically "adapted" for two special episodes. At that time, Omar Sy was cast as Bishop, so this current movie of Days of Future Past is officially, the first "live-action version" of Bishop to hit the screens. We are told by Eric Eisenberg, of Cinema Blend that we should expect to see Bishop continue to appear in future movies with the other original X-Men characters. [18] Personally, I'm going to be looking for Bishop to appear in X-Men: Apocalypse, hopefully, out in theaters April 2016.]

X-Men: Apocalypse, hopefully out in theaters in 2016! [19]
     The other new character I will look forward to seeing in X-Men: Apocalypse is Blink. In the movie, Fan Bingbing has been cast as Blink; this character, too, came to the comics in the mid-90s, again, as part of a two issue comic book crossover (Phalanx Covenant and Age of Apocalypse). Blink's character apparently can teleport and open portals--she will be, it seems, fighting the sentinels alongside other super mutants.

     Of the other three characters, I think Sunspot looks awesome in the movie trailer, and Warpath (the brother of Shaman whom we saw in the comics) is out for revenge--I guess we need a minimum number of characters "out for revenge." It seems a popular recyclable plot device.

     Quicksilver is a very popular, awesome character for Marvel (just not in the X-Men: Days of Future Past story arc). He, along with the Scarlet Witch (mentioned above), are the children of Magneto who have been raised by others. Once grown, Magneto saves them and enlists them in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants; later, both leave the Brotherhood and reform their ways...joining up with the famous Avengers group.

Avengers: The Age of Ultron [20]
     Quicksilver is considered to be the quintessential bad guy turned good guy. In fact, the two characters, Red Witch and Quick- silver, will appear in the upcoming movie, Avengers: The Age of Ultron, release date, May 1, 2015! By the way, in Days of Future Past, Evan Peters will portray Quicksilver, while in Avengers (2): The Age of Ultron, Aaron Taylor-Johnson will play the character. [21]

     Yes, I know the Avengers are a whole different universe--in fact, in Ultron, the two may be given a wholly different origin story than the Marvel one; and yes, I know that the Days of Future Past and Avengers 2 movie are not connected to each other, they just have these two characters in common. In any event, in Days we will get to see Quicksilver enlisted to help break Magneto out of that poetic justice, or what?

     Finally, above all these fantastic characters and big-name movie stars, there is only one thing I can think of that might upstage them all. The Sentinels. It could very well be that Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry will take second seats to these behemoths. What is better than a giant? You got it. A giant robot. To be convincing, they will have to be terrifying. We'll just have to wait and see what Hollywood does with them.

5 star rating system. [22]
 (1) Book 1: X-Men: Days of Future Past: I loved this glossy paperback book. The story arc is wonderful. The team putting the book together did a great job selecting the issues to include and then they made the book beautiful to read and enjoy. If you purchased for yourself only one book (for $15.26) in which to get up to speed on the X-Men, this would be the book I'd recommend! It has all the basics in one small package. I give this book 4.5 stars of of 5. [1]

5 star rating system. [22]
     (2) Book 2: X-Men: Days of Future Past: [Same title, different content] The book, a hardback book, is durable, glossy, and just beautiful ...and it is much, much bigger than book 1. The one extra thing I LOVED about this book was the inclusion of special three part series entitled, Wolverine: Days of Future Past, a prelude to the Days of Future Past story arc. A really great inclusion in the book! I would buy this book again (even though it is not inexpensive at $28.96) and have no regrets. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. [7]

5 star rating system. [23]
     (3) Book 3: Essential X-Men: Volume Two (Marvel Essentials v. 2): This black and white, pulp paper book is a great book if you want to economize. (mine cost $15.21). And to give the publishers credit, we do get a lot of issues here in one package. Still, I much prefer the beautiful editions, just above. The reading of this black and white edition was lacking in enjoyment that the other books provided. I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. [13]

       I hope you have enjoyed today's rather long-winded blog post about the upcoming movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and, of course, the books that spawned the movie. With the advent of these super hero movies, we are bombarded in books and movies, certainly, but also in novelty items, like toys, collectible figurines, special editions or collector's editions of video or console or PC gaming, of clothing, bedding, hats, music CDs, and even PEZ dispensers.

My darling husband
Carl, helping me out
with the PEZ candy
dispenser photo.
"Thank you," Carl.
     I'm afraid that I've been sucked in by all the hype, too. I've decided to just roll with it. I saw the Wolverine PEZ dispenser and bought it just to have on my desk for inspiration as well as a sweet treat for myself while I've been drafting this blog post. I loved how much fun it was allowing myself to "get into" this blog post. I hope you've enjoyed reading about the books I selected for you today. Grab a book and learn just a little more about Days before it gets to the big screen. And...just a suggestion...grab a Wolverine PEZ and nibble while you read. Just...have some fun while you're doing it!

     Thank you for joining me this week as we looked at some action books! Join me next week as we look at a new book and, hopefully, have some fun, too. Take care, my friends, and pick up a book and read just a bit.

Until next time...
A White Rose. [24]
...many happy pages of reading!


[1] X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Retrieved 04-20-14.
[2] "100 Greatest Marvels of All Time." Retrieved 04-21-14.
[3] "How Many Comics Has Marvel Published Since 1939?" Retrieved 04-22-14.
[4] "Kitty Pryde." Retrieved 04-22-14.
[5] "X-Men: Days of Future Past, Review." Retrieved 04-22-14.
[6] "Days of Future Past." Retrieved 04-22-14.
[7] "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Retrieved 04-22-14.
[8] "The Superheroes List." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[10] "Avengers vs. X-Men: Los Lideres." Retrieved 04-24-14.
[11] "Over/Underrated." Retrieved 04-24-14.
[12] "Synch." Retrieved 04-25-14.
[13] "Essential X-Men, Vol. 2." Retrieved 04-22-14.
[14] "The Hellfire Club." Retrieved 04-27-14.
[16] "Entertainment Weekly: Summer Movie Preview." Retrieved 04-25-14.
[17] "Meet the New Mutants." (p.31) Retrieved 04-28-14.
[18] "X-Men: Days of Future Past--What We Know So Far." Retrieved 04-28-14.
[20] "The Avengers: Age of Ultron Teaser Trailer Released." Retrieved 04-28-14.
[21] "Who is That in the 'Captain America 2' Post-Credits Scene?" Retrieved 04-28-14.
[22] "Book Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers." Retrieved 04-28-14.
[23] "Book Review: Halflings by Heather Burch." Retrieved 04-28-14.
[24] "28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 04-28-14.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships by Richard Templar

The Rules of Love: A Personal Code
for Happier, More Fulfilling Relation-
, by Richard Templar. [1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Harry had been gone for two hours after he had stormed out of the house and slammed the door. I started to "pack a few of the things" I would need, into my suitcase...I had decided to go and stay with my sister for a while. As I zipped up my suitcase, I heard a car door close, just outside in the driveway--I cursed quietly, to myself. He was coming in. The door opened and Harry saw me standing there with my suitcase.

     He looked shocked and, I think, sad. "I made you want to leave?" he asked, barely above a whisper. I cleared my throat..." told me to leave, didn't you?" He was quiet for a moment. "I didn't mean it. I was foolish to tell you to leave, and I'm sorry." He asked me, "Where are you going?" I look at my feet, I said, "I was going to my sister's, but...I think I'll stay here." I look up and see him smiling; I smile back. Then, we spend a couple of hours talking about things and how we both felt. I think we both learned some things. (This story is from Wattpad: One Direction Preferences; How He Apologizes After An Argument [2].)

The Rules of Life
by Richard Templar.[3]
     This marvelous little story tells of Harry apologizing to the woman he loves. We can empathize with the couple as they struggle to make amends after a serious argument. If the woman in the story had understood the "Rules of Love," she could have apologized first when Harry came back into the room. We will learn from Richard Templar, that she could have apologized, not for being wrong, but for letting the argument degenerate into the yelling and anger that occurred.

The Rules of Money
by Richard Templar.[4]
   This week's post is about how you can have, as the author puts it, "Happier, More Fulfilling Relation- ships."The Author, Richard Templar, is also the author of the international best selling title, The Rules of Life. Richard Templar, in fact, has a whole series of books about, "The Rules of _____." Some of the titles are: The Rules of Management: The Definitive Guide to Managerial Success; The Rules of Wealth: A Personal Code for Prosperity; The Rules of Parenting: A Personal Code of Raising Happy Confident Children; The Rules of Work, Expanded Edition: A Definitive Code for Personal Success; How To Get Things Done (without trying too hard), Expanded Edition, and The Rules of Money, How to Make It and How to Hold on to It

     If any of the above-listed titles interest you, know that they are all based on the simple premise of including a hundred simple rules for success (in each of the areas listed, above). Richard Templar (a pen name) shares with you the rules he utilized on his own "path to success." To help you decide whether one or more of these titles might be what you are looking for, I've decided to review for you, The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships.


Do you know what it takes to succeed at love? [5]
    Richard Templar asks us, "What do successful people do?" The answer, of course, is in what Richard Templar attempts to do in writing this book. He has put together the top 100 rules that he has studied and observed in other successful people in the area of "love," the subject of this book. It is a similar approach to what he has done in this series in his other books entitled, "The Rules of __________." In this book on love, Templar also throws in a few of the rules he has learned through personal experience in his own life, as well.

     Richard Templar reminds us that we all know a lot about love, having lived and experienced life, and that these 100 rules are really reminders about what we should all be doing to be successful in love. They are, perhaps, a crystallization, of concepts that we just haven't given much thought to or that we've forgotten about. Templar reminds us that there isn't a "magic bullet" or "magic wand" that can be used to solve all our love problems. It takes desire as well as work to get where we want to go. 

Is there a "magic wand" to fix your
relationship problems? [6]
     Richard Templar attempts, in this book, to give us guide posts or signs to follow on the path to love and better relationships. So, in other words, do not look for a "secret" ingredient or revelation--there is none. What you can expect and what you can look for is what all successful people do to succeed in attaining loving relationships. As I mentioned, just above, is that he has collected for us, under this one title, the accumulated wisdom of what most success- ful people do in their relationships.

     Richard Templar organizes the book logically, into sections to make the book easy to use. He puts the Rules For Finding Love, logically enough, in Part 1. Relationship Rules take up all of Part II. Rules For Parting fall under Part III., Part IV is Family Rules, Part V. is Friendship Rules, and finally, Part VI. is devoted to Rules for Everyone.


Hmmmmm? [7]
     Many gems exist in this book. I have to say I was quite impressed about the section dealing with arguments with a loved-one. Richard Templar acknowledges that none of us really want to have a falling out with someone we love, but it has, at some point in our lives, happened. He asks us what we want to do about it.

     Richard Templar's answer is not what we want to hear. Not what we want to do. Not even something we want to contemplate. When I read the book, I knew the answer, and I'll bet you do too, don't you? Yes, the answer is that you "apologize." And, here's the must do it before they do it. You must be the first.

The concept of apologizing
first has been around for a
while. Maybe we should all
take it to heart. [8]
     I know. I know. I have troubles with taming my ego, too. After all, I've been hurt. I feel I'm right. And, I don't want to lose. I don't want to be humiliated. I don't want to feel worse than I already do. Yes, I know, we all have reasons why not to apologize. Well, Richard Templar has an answer for all that. He indicates that we needn't back down on our statements or our position. What we need to apologize for is for letting a "perfectly valid discussion" degenerate into an argument or shouting match. 

     And, while it does take two people to fight, what you are really apologizing for is letting the argument happen at all, for being childish, if you will, and for all the mistakes you made to get to the point you are at right now. Remember, you are apologizing for letting things get overheated and out of hand, "not your original opinion or action" (p.69). In this, you are going to be an adult; you are going to take the high road.

     This one rule is priceless. Getting this section's good advice is worth the price of the book, all by itself. And there are others, certainly, almost equally as valuable.

To build anything in a relationship
is beautiful. Building a bridge to another
person, and then crossing it to meet
them by apologizing is a
"radical gift." [9]
     I covered this one rule extensively because I just wanted to show you how much is packed into one rule. And just think about it--there are a hundred rules. You needn't feel as if you must memorize all the rules--you simply work on the ones that apply to you in your life. You know where the problems are and you will know which rules will help you.


     This quote comes from the section entitled, "Guilt Is a Selfish Emotion." Richard Templar explains that guilt is all about "Me, me, me" (p220). Guilt is about how terrible my life is, and the emotion centers itself entirely on the self. When that happens, we are so busy thinking about ourselves that we don't have time for others. Here is my favorite quote:
Realize it is a choice! [10]
Babbling on about how you feel, how terrible it is for you, is unacceptable. That's why this is a Rule of Love. because in order to love people usefully you need to be focused on them and not on yourself. You need to stop seeking attention and think about other people. I've known people who thrived on guilt. People who would look for things to feel guilty about. Why? Because it's the easiest way in the world to focus all your love on yourself. Don't give in to it. If you've done something bad, make amends and move on. Just one other thing. If you do catch yourself feeling guilty about something, just stop. Don't feel guilty about feeling guilty...IN ORDER TO LOVE PEOPLE USEFULLY YOU NEED TO BE FOCUSED ON THEM AND NOT ON YOURSELF (pp 220-221).
I like this quote by Oprah Winfrey![11]
     I loved reading the rules about arguments and guilt, and in spite of the quote on guilt being my favorite quote, I have to say that my favorite chapter is Chapter 24., BE HONORABLE. I think that if one does not have Integrity, Honesty, Compassion, Thoughtfulness and Kindness, as Richard Templar says, everyone in your life will suffer--especially you. How can you have any relationships without trust engendered from these qualities of character? So yes, you do owe it to your loved ones to be honorable and upright and to act with integrity, kindness and compassion. And, you owe it to yourself. You simply must read this chapter, if no other.


This rating utilizes the 5 star system.[12]
Richard Templar. [13]
   This book is a book bout relationships and love between couples, relatives, and friends. I have no qualms about recommending this book to its intended audience. The only caution I give is that you may find yourself challenged to make yourself into a better human being. You may find yourself uncomfortable as you consider your own limitations and failings. But as Richard Templar exhorts us to not give up but ever to strive to have more fulfilling relationships, I cannot in good faith criticize it simply because it might make me a little uncomfortable in confronting my own personal limitations. My rating is 4.5 Stars out of 5. A most excellent and truly helpful book.

     Thank you for joining me this week as we looked at relationships and by utilizing some simple "Rules for Love," we can live a "Happier, More Fulfilling," life. I find that reading helps me to grow, helps me to stimulate my mind, and helps me consider many different viewpoints other than my own--it can for you, too. So, until next week when we will look at anoother new book, consider picking up and reading Richard Templar's, The Rules of Love: A Personal Code for Happier, More Fulfilling Relationships

Until next time...
White Rose. [14]
...many happy pages of reading.



[2] One Direction Preferences: How HeApologizes After An Argument. Retrieved 04-23-14.
[4] "The Rules of Money: How to Make It and How to Hold on to It." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[5]"Nathalie Lussier: Digital Strategy to Match Your Ambition." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[6] "Magic-Wand." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[7] "What do you choose? Fear or Joy?" Retrieved 04-23-14.
[8] "The First to Apologize." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[9] "Why Is Apologizing So Hard?" Retrieved 04-23-14.
[10] "Let the Guilt Go?" Retrieved 04-23-14.
[11] "Real Integrity." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[12] "Manga Monday." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[13] "Richard Templar." Retrieved 04-23-14.
[14] "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 04-23-14.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Million Dollar Arm by J.B. Bernstein--The True Story of the First Two Indian Men to Sign American Major League Baseball Contracts! NOW ON BLU-RAY & DVD!

This review is dedicated to all my friends in India. See the full DEDICATION, below.

J.B. Bernstein is available on; 
this edition is available as a Kindle book
 (or an e-book download). [1]
Book Review by
Sharon Powers.

     Oh, man. It was nice to be able to get outside for our (7th grade) phys ed class now that the clouds and rain were gone. A girl with red hair and freckles was at bat...she was a strike. She was really tall for her age and seemed to fill up the batting box.  Because of her long arms, she had a good reach with the bat. The pitcher wound up and threw the ball a second time...strike two. She was usually a good hitter and when she connected with the ball we all knew it would go all the way to the outfield. The catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher. 

This little story I told you was a true
story from my grade school days at
Willow Springs Elementary School. I
was a very active girl in sports, and
I'm probably lucky all my injuries were
relatively minor. No broken bones,
only a few stitches and bruises, most-
ly because I learned my lesson about
safety from the above mishap. In the
book, safety was something J.B.Bern-
stein stressed to the people with which
he worked--for very good reason. [2]
     I was up next and felt anxious because our team still didn't have anyone on base. One more chance...I knew she could do it. Anxious, I peered forward to see the batter. The pitcher wound up...threw the ball...she swung...wham! the bat connected with my head. What? What just happened? I lay on the ground seeing stars. That little accident only cost me five stitches on my forehead. 

     For a kid out there on the baseball field, I wouldn't trade places with anyone, but I did learn not to be so interested in what was going on that I forgot how close I was to the batter swinging the Louisville Slugger. She apologized profusely, but I told her, "No worries...after was my fault, not yours." I was a "hit" for a while with the other kids--they all wanted to see my stitches. And, happy me, like any kid, I got to show off my war injury. Needless to say, the whole class got a lecture from our phys ed instructor on safety the next time we met. 
As a kid, I loved baseball! [3]
     I don't know how different I would be if I had grown up without the game of baseball. After all, it's one of our national pastimes--it literally fills our culture. Who would I have become without this exciting and beautiful sport? Since I grew up loving and playing the game, I'll never know. But the book, Million Dollar Arm explores what does happen to two young men who grew up without baseball, but are handed a chance to discover who they are, and who they can become, as a sport, once unknown to them, magically transforms their lives.

     The movie, Million Dollar Arm, is based upon the book, Million Dollar Arm, by J.B. Bernstein. The book, itself, is based on true-to-life events experienced by sports agent, J.B. Bernstein and the remarkable young men he sought to recruit as new, raw, baseball talent. Before we delve into the book and how the movie came to be, let's take a quick look at this utterly charming, captivating trailer for the movie [4]...then we'll talk:    

     Jon Hamm will star as J.B. Bernstein, Bill Paxton as Tom House, Suraj Sharma as Rinku, Madhur Mittal as Dinesh, Lake Bell as Brenda Paauwe, and Aasif Mandvi as Ash Vasudevan. Director credits go to Craig Gillespie, and writing credits go to Thomas McCarthy (screenplay) and J.B. Bernstein (book). IMDb information states the genres will be listed as Biography, Drama, and Sport and the MPAA rating will be PG (for mild language and some suggestive content). IMDb, also indicates that the movie will be available in both English and Hindi languages. [5]

     You may remember Suraj Sharma; well, you will if you saw the movie, The Life of Pi. Suraj is the young actor who played "Pi" in that exciting movie. Suraj, as I said, just above, is cast as Rinku in the upcoming movie, Million Dollar Arm. Madhur Mittal will star as Dinesh--Madhur starred in Slumdog Millionnaire, the 2012 movie, Treasure Island (also starring Donald Sutherland and Elijah Wood), and a 2001 movie entitled, One 2 Ka 4 (starring some of Bollywood's leading actors).

     I have to tell you folks, after watching this trailer my face is filled up with smiles. I feel lighter just listening to the uplifting music; FYI, the music in the trailer, "Living in the Hall of Fame," was performed by "The Script." I've been chuckling and enjoying every second of the short trailer. I can hardly wait to see the movie!

J.B. tells us he has thirty (30) time-
pieces in his watch collection. This
one is Patek Philippe, but he doesn't
discriminate against Audemars Pi-
guet, Rolex, Vacheron Constatin,
or  Breitling (see p. 7).     [6]
THE BOOK: While the movie indicates that J.B.'s business was on the rocks as his motivation for searching for new talent, the book provides the real reason. J.B.'s business was actually doing well. J.B. tells us that he is a business savvy sports agent, and that he rewarded himself with expensive watches, cars and a luxurious home. He also loved women. And although he loved being with women, he did not look to have a long-term relationship or family any time in the near future. He tells us he is not proud of the life-style he led, at that point, and feels a bit chagrined by it all.

Here is a cricket player winding up
to throw the cricket ball. [7] 
     In spite of his less than squeaky-clean lifestyle, J.B. never hesitates to do the right thing.  When he is asked to pay a cash signing bonus of one million dollars under the table--he picks up his contract, unsigned, and walks out. Looking for new talent, J.B. considers that he needs to look for it in an untapped market. A short time later he is considering cricket players and how fast they can throw.

The name of the reality-based TV
show was called, "The Million
Dollar Arm."
    Quickly, J.B. and company put together an idea to host a reality TV show in India--where cricket is a national obsession. The show would be called, "The Million Dollar Arm," and would give finalists a chance to win a million dollars and sign a baseball contract with an American major league team. Soon J.B. is on a plane to India with a radar gun to aid him in his quest to find potential pitchers in big cities and on small farms.

This is an image of a radar gun--
J.B.'s mishaps with the radar
gun are hilarious! [9]
     J.B.'s culture shock is not to be missed, but he does come away with two potential players--we know that from the movie trailer, so that's not really a spoiler. How J.B. manages in India and what can be described as getting the tiger by the tail, is nothing more than a rip-roaring wonderful read-fest with your Kindle or e-book reader. The stories will have you chuckling and snickering at all the vignettes that J.B. and the two young men (Rinku and Dinesh) go through.

     The following quote is, of course, by J.B. Bernstein:
"...witnessing Rinku and Dinesh leave the comfort of take a wild leap of faith across the globe...was nothing short of heroic.... Whether Rinku makes it to the major league and what- ever Dinesh does back in India, they are better for knowing that their lives are what they make of it. And I am better for having been along with them for the journey....For me, Million Dollar Arm was an awakening...I began to examine what I had made of myself. Taking inventory, my accomplishments didn't match my resources. I was a hard worker, but even in all my efforts on behalf of my clients, I had kept myself closed off from others. Like Rinku's father said, our job on this earth is to be a link to those who come before us and those who will be here long after we are gone. It wasn't until I helped two guys from India to dream that I had any inkling of what that meant....My prayers during the [Diwali] festival, honoring the inner light that transcends physical being, revolved around the health and well-being of the ones I loved already and the one on the way. For myself, all I hoped was to be a good, strong link for them, as well as anyone else needing a little help to dream. (pp. 218-220) [Diwali image, #10]

J.B. Bernstein learned about how
to be a link from himself to others.
What a wonderful thing to learn! [11]
   I really love that J.B. gives credit to Rinku's father for helping him to learn about "being a link" between  himself and others. The other thing I really love about this quote is that it takes courage to put yourself out there and let others see you. At the beginning of the book Bernstein talks about how he was not proud of his lifestyle. He put himself out there to show us all that we, too, can learn and grow beyond what we are, that we, too, can become a link for other people. All we need is the courage to make a leap of faith--as did Rinku and Dinesh.

I found this wonderful little quote
for you by Oliver Wendell Holmes,
legendary Supreme Court Jurist
from 1902-1932. [12]
     One last thing about the quote: J.B. gave Rinku and Dinesh direction, showed them how to learn baseball (English, and about the culture). The two young men had to be willing to listen in order to avail themselves of the knowledge J.B. possessed and that he was willing to give. The same can be said of J.B. He had to be willing to listen when Rinku's father spoke with J.B. about being a link to others. That willingness to listen is a very beautiful thing--you give respect to the speaker and gain wisdom for yourself, in the listening. Marvelous!

This Indian dish is saag paneer. It is
one of the dishes Rinku and Dinesh
served at an appreciation dinner
in gratitude for all the help they
received in learning to play the
game of baseball. (p.154).[13]
     I have been reluctant to divulge too much of the story of Rinku and Dinesh because, really, that is what the book is all about. Going to India to find baseball pitching talent and recruiting the two young men to play baseball in America is the spice that goes into J.B.'s dish, so to speak. I just can't give it all away, so I've primarily spoken about J.B. Bernstein, here. I wanted to give you a taste of the book so you could ascertain just how wonderful this lively story is--without giving you the whole dish! This is a new book, and I certainly don't want to spoil your enjoyment of reading this delightful story.

This photograph is one found in the
book, Million Dollar Arm. The
photographs section is located at
the end of the book. J.B., in the
middle, says, "My two sons..." [14]
     Second. You will LOVE Rinku and Dinesh's part of the story. And...just as J.B. had culture shock when he went to India to recruit, Rinku and Dinesh also have culture shock in coming to the U.S. Their story about how they learned to play baseball, how to pitch, how to cook, and a myriad amount of other delightful vignettes for your enjoyment are sure to be as savory to you as they were to me. As I indicated, above, as I read the book, I laughed, chuckled, and snickered my way through the entire book. It is utterly delightful.

Rinku, on the left, and Dinesh, on the right. [15]
     Reading and reviewing this book puts to mind another book review I did that addressed culture shock of natives of India coming to America; the review of that book, Brotherhood, Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream, by Deepak Chopra and Sanjiv Chopra, can be found on this website (a shortcut by clicking on this link).
      Also, I heard an interesting factoid about Rinku. According to India Today, before every game, Rinku recites Hanuman Chalisa and then listens to "I'm Not Afraid," by rapper, Eminem. [16] I found the song on Soundcloud and have it for you to listen to, here. Listen to the lyrics to see why Rinku listens to this song to psych himself up. Just click the play button (and don't have your volume up too high.)[17] I have to admit that after listening to this song a few times, it has really grown on me. I never knew I would ever like a rap song. Oh, well, live and learn. Grow. Become...more.

     Of the movie, Million Dollar Arm, IMDb tells us that the MPAA rating is PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) because of mild language and suggestive content. Similarly, I would rate the book PG due to some of the adult themes and "suggestive content." I didn't see much bad language in the book, but some suggestive scenes that may not be appropriate for young or impressionable readers. As always, I advise that mothers and fathers know best what they want their children to read, and advise parents to read the book first if there is any question of its suitability for their children. 

I loved this book. 4.5 stars out of 5! [18]

     My rating for this book is simple. It is was a very entertaining book, well written, and rife with darling stories about Rinku and Dinesh. I rate this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I also look forward to going to see the movie next month, as its release date is May 16, 2014 in U.S. markets.
Incredible India. Nothing is more incredible about India
than her people. Namaste. [19]
     I have many international followers and readers of this blog. Thank you, to all of you. Today, however, I dedicate this blog post to all of you in India who have taken time to read my blog and taken the time to send me comments about the books I have presented in these blog posts. 

     I dedicate this post to you today because of the two wonderful Indian men, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, who have won over the hearts and minds of the American people. And...I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I am grateful that you enjoy reading about the books I have given you in these book reviews. I am an American (living in California), and will always love my country, but I want you to know that I appreciate the many beautiful things India contributes to the world...not the least of which is you. Again, thank you for reading and enjoying this blog and sharing with me, my love of books. God bless you. Namaste.

     Early this afternoon (04-17-14), Mr. Bernstein sent me this notification about my blog post of his book, Million Dollar Arm and the upcoming movie by the same name--please see a copy of that notification, just to the left. 

     My deepest appreciation to J.B. Bernstein for his notification to me. It is so wonderful when someone recognizes your work--something I tried to do in my blog post for Mr. Bernstein, Million Dollar Arm, and Rinku and Dinesh (everyone involved in the project). I also appreciate Mr. Bernstein's kind words to me for my work. Thank you. 

    I send my best wishes to all of you involved in the project and continued hope for success (in the very best sense of the word)! Since I am second generation Irish (and couldn't be more Irish, even if I lived in Ireland), I send you an Irish blessing: May you enjoy the four greatest blessings: Honest work to occupy you. A hearty appetite to sustain you. A good woman to love you. And a wink from the God above. very best to you J.B., Rinku, Dinesh, Manoj, Deepesh, Coach House, and everyone involved in this wonderful project! God bless you all. Namaste.

     Thank you for joining me this week as we explored another new book. Join me again next week as we look at, yet, another book from the world of reading enjoyment. Please tell others about this blog and share my posts to help spread the word about books and the wonder of reading!

Until next time...

White Rose. [20]
...many happy pages of reading!


(1) "Million Dollar Arm." Retrieved 04-12-14.
(2)  "Louisville Slugger Liable in Wrongful Death." Retrieved 04-14-14.
(3) "Baseball Activities for Kids." Retrieved 04-14-14.
(4)  "Million Dollar Arm." [Movie Trailer: Million Dollar Arm]Retrieved 04-13-14.
(5) "Million Dollar Arm." [Casting] Retrieved 04-14-14.
(6) "Patek Philippe Nautilus." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(7) "Take Me Out to the Cricket Game." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(9) "2 Guys Talking: Dillon Gee." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(10) "Shubh Diwali Wallpaper Best Collection." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(11) "Share the (Link) Love, But Do it Better." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(12) "Coaching Quote of the Day December 28 2013." coaching Retrieved 04-16-14.
(13) "Saag Paneer." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(14) "Video: PittsburghPirates Take Silver Screen in Upcoming 'Million Dollar Arm' Movie." 04-16-14.
(17) "I'm Not Afraid." [Eminem] Retrieved 04-13-14.
(18) "Man of Steel (2013)." [4.5 Stars.] Retrieved 04-16-14.
(19)  "Culture of India." Retrieved 04-16-14.
(20) "Top 28 White Roses Pictures For Free Download." Retrieved 04-16-14.